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Thomas Franklin Asch

Thomas Asch’s Answers

34 total

  • Legal malpractice: Obligated to pay bill for incompetent service?

    For about six months I retained a lawyer to help me in an estate settlement dispute with a relative. I was dismayed as I saw that he seemed to mainly agree with the proposals of my relative’s lawyer I also sensed, from his e-mails and the timing...

    Thomas’s Answer

    I agree that it sounds like that you and your former lawyer simply disagreed about the best way to approach the case. If that is all there is to it, it does not relieve you of the responsibility to pay your bill. That is, if he simply made recommendations of compromise that you did not agree with, you are still obligated. There is a hint though that he made agreements or compromises with the other side that you did not authorize. If these agreements were unauthorized and prejudiced your rights in the case, you may have a basis for not paying some of the fees, or even recovering for the prejudice caused. But, since you now have another attorney who knows the facts of your case, I would suggest asking him about this question.

    Of course, as noted above, you can always seek to have your former attorney voluntarily reduce his bill.

    Lastly, I do want to caution you that if you do not pay your bill, and have yet to obtain needed papers or documents in the possession of your former lawyer, he has a right to hold on to these (with few exceptions) until he is paid. This is called a "retaining lien" and holding important papers can give an attorney a great deal of leverage in getting a fee paid.

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  • Do I have cause to sue?

    I am a doctoral level student in clinical psychology who has completed all my classes but not yet been awarded my final doctoral degree pending completing an internship. I was recently summoned to appear in front of a committee for a parody video ...

    Thomas’s Answer

    I just wanted to add that there are two organizations that it be worth you consulting: (1) The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and (2) the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). The former is thought of as "liberal" and the latter as "libertarian" but they often agree on campus free-speech issues and both have helped students and faculty with these matters.

    The website for the ACLU is and FIRE's is In addition, FIRE has a guide to free speech issues on campus that you might find useful.

    Good luck.

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  • Breach of contract for repayment of a loan, need advice

    My friend and I had an oral agreement for her to pay me money back and she will not repay me anything even though we agreed she would. We're both under 18, but I do need the money back, and I need to find a way to do it because we had an oral cont...

    Thomas’s Answer

    First, how much is involved? If you are thinking about taking her to court it may not be worth it. There are up front filing fees, even in small claims court.

    Second, if it is a significant sum, you have the problem that you are both minors. Unless Connecticut has a different rule, generally a minor may not file suit without an a adult as a guardian or "next friend." So if you are serious about pursuing a legal remedy, you will need help from your parent or guardian. And by the way, if you haven't already done so, it might be a good idea to consult a parent or guardian about this problem regardless of whether you decide to try to use the legal system to collect.

    As for the suit, depending on your local procedure in your state, there might be a necessity to name an adult representative for your friend as well. The next hurdle is that as a minor, your friend is probably not bound by her contracts, though that might not be so in the case of loan. However, the law is not so silly that it would let her get away with taking your money. You should be able to recover under a equitable theory of "unjust enrichment" or "money had and received".

    This brings us to the practical problems: would she simply claim that you never gave her the money? As the plaintiff in the suit, you have the burden of proof, which means that if the judge cannot tell who is lying, you lose. (Of course, if you have witnesses--would have to come court-- or, if she gave you even a simple "IOU" you would not have this problem. In future, if you loan money, it might be a good idea to get a receipt or IOU.) And then the other problem is, does she have the money to pay you back? Even a court judgment cannot force her to pay money that she does not have. What a court judgment does is allow the winner the right to get at the loser's bank accounts, go after their wages or property that they own. Most minors do not have much in the way of assets that can be seized to satisfy a judgment, and tend not to make much money.

    So, it seems to me that unless you are talking about a large sum of money due from someone with the means to pay it, using the legal system is unlikely to be your best option.

    MY SUGGESTION: I would suggest trying what even the largest banks and corporations do: negotiate. Try asking her to pay a little bit of it back each week. She might not be paying you back because she just does not have the total she needs to do so. For example, if she owes you a hundred, maybe she can pay you twenty, or even ten a week. Or, you can offer to call it even, if she pays you most of, or even half of what she owes. At least that is better than nothing, which is what you have now.

    I think that many of us who have had the experience of lending friends money know that it can be a risky business where you can lose both the friendship and the money. I hope you are able to save both.

    I can genuinely say that the above answer is not intended as nor should it be taken as legal advice, but is intended for general educational purposes only.

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  • Do I, and what type of a lawyer would I need when considering whistleblowing on a previous employer whom is breaking the law?

    A recent employer of mine continues to report false charges to the State that I live in. In other words the company is reporting using materials to the State that they are not using. False charges.

    Thomas’s Answer

    When you say your former employer is reporting "false charges" do you mean that the company has a contract with the state and is billing the state for materials that are not used? If so, this likely violates the Florida False Claims Act. There are many attorneys in Florida who handle false claims cases. I cannot advise you about Florida Law but it is very similar to the Federal False Claims Act, and allows a whistleblower to recover 15 - 30% of the amount recovered for the government. These cases are also "qui tam" cases. If the overrcharges are at all substantial, you should be able to find many attorneys eager to take the case.

    So you are looking for "False Claims Act" or "qui tam" attorney in Florida.

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  • Dealership Fraud

    I went on a car loan with my boyfriend in 2007. Upon signing the papers I notice that they had me down as the same last name as him. When I asked thay told me it was a typo and just sign my last name. I was also told by the dealership that I could...

    Thomas’s Answer

    I assume that the bank has not come after you for the loan, and your boyfriend is making the payments. If he makes all the payments, you will be off the hook. The danger seems to be that he will default leaving you holding the bag. You raise two issues.

    First is the fact that the loan agreement lists you as married. Note that if this is a fraud--that is if the fact whether you were married or not was material to the bank's decision to extend credit--then it is a fraud on the bank, not you. That means that they can "waive the fraud" and hold you to the contract. It sounds like that is what they are doing. There is no law that you have to be married to co-sign a loan. Theoretically, if the bank could show that the dealership made the misrepresentation and that it could not collect because you were not married, then it could go after the dealership for the unpaid loan.

    The second issue is the dealership's apparently false representation that you could come off after a year. This could be what is called "fraud in the inducement" which means that you might have the right to rescind (cancel) your co-signature on the loan if you show that you would never have signed unless you knew it was only for a year. However, whether you could might depend on the relationship between the dealership and the bank, which is a matter too complex to get into here. Also remember that as a practical matter, liars lie, and the dealership would be unlikely to admit it said any such thing. (By the way, the next time someone tells you something like that to get you to sign something, ask them to show you where in the contract it says that. If it is not in the contract, write it in.)

    Right now, if the boyfriend has not defaulted, it may not be worth doing much more than telling the Better Business Bureau about the transaction, or letting the Attorney General's consumer fraud division ( ) know about the dealership's lie about you being able to come off the loan and its misrepresentation to the bank. I also suspect you will not be patronizing that dealership again.

    If there is a default, you may have a defense to payment or a claim against the dealership for its misrepresentation. If you have already been called upon to pay, or you want to get your name off the loan right now (is it hurting your credit rating?), you should see an attorney to explore your options. Many attorneys have free consultations to see if they can do anything for you. An attorney, might for example, find a statutory violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, if you have sustained any damages.

    Of course, you should not rely on this, or any other legal analysis you obtain in an internet forum like this. The only way to get real legal advice is to hire an attorney who can fully review the paperwork involved, delve into the factual situation and spend some time reviewing the issues.That is why the most frequent advice on this site is: get an attorney.

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  • Libel & Slander

    I am a owner of a towing service and my compition has mailed letters to places i do business for and my customers and posted on the internet that i am a sex offender, i not legal to tow, i have no insurance and the list goes on. I have lost contra...

    Thomas’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    To answer your question: it sounds like you have a very good case if you can show that your competitor is the one who engaged in this conduct. Usually this type of attack is done anonymously or through others.

    But if you do have proof that he is behind these efforts, then you have a very good case of trade libel, not to mention what is called libel per se against you. This is because he has accused you of committing a sex offense. That means that you do not have to show "special damages" which would be, for example, lost business, though it appears you have that as well. You could probably also obtain an injunction under the Illinois Deceptive Trade Practices Act which provides "A person engages in a deceptive trade practice when, in the course of his or her business, vocation, or occupation, the person... disparages the goods, services, or business of another by false or misleading representation of fact." Given the clearly intentional and malicious nature of these attacks, I also suspect that a court would award you attorneys fees, which are allowed under the Act in the discretion of the court. This would also be a violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act which allows you actual damages, punitive damages, injunctive relief and attorneys fees.

    Things to do:

    First, you can contact the Illinois Attorney General's office The website is They investigate violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, though they are more focused on consumers than businesses. Since there are others that are being victimized by this guy, you should get together and all complain about him.

    Second, you can sue this guy whether or not the Attorney General's office decides to do anything. (Don't blame them if they don't. They work very hard and need to prioritize the cases they pursue.) But then the practical issue that you will be faced with is whether this guy has any means of paying a judgment--whether it is for damages to your business and reputation, or for the attorney fees you will incur in suing him. Also, in my experience, people as unscrupulous as this fellow appears to be, will have no problem lying to the court, and, if he loses, hiding his money and assets from attempts to collect.

    But again, given that you say he has done this to other persons and businesses as well, it may be a good idea to contact his other victims band together and hire an attorney to represent all of you, so that you can share the cost of a lawsuit necessary to stop this outrageous conduct, and, hopefully, recover the damages he has has caused you.

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  • What does "Consent to Jurisdiction" mean

    I signed a promisary note where I invested $5,000.00 3 years ago, and was suppose to be paid $10,000.00 at the end of 2009. The company I signed this with is a large development company. They are refusing to pay me the money they owe me, both pa...

    Thomas’s Answer

    The question is what the rest of the provisions in the note, if any, on suit say. A "consent to jurisdiction" just means that suit is allowed in California, not that it is compelled to be there. It prevents you from claiming that the California courts do not have jurisdiction over you. Absent any language stating that Califrornia is the exclusive place that suit may be brought, it would not prevent you from bringing suit in Illinois. You leave out whether the note was signed in Illinois, though that would make sense, given that both signatories are Illinois residents. If the note was signed in Illinois, and the development company does business in Illinois (e.g. it has an office or developments here) it is likely that you are on solid ground suing here. So, when you say that one of the signers has an office here, do mean it is an office of the company? If so, you should be on very solid ground suing in Illinois (provided there is nothing else in the note limiting suit.) It might be worthwhile to spend a few dollars consulting with an attorney who has all the facts from you regarding this transaction before proceeding.

    The additional question you raise is about California law. Unless there is also a "Choice of Law" clause in the note requiring the use of California law, the question would usually be decided under Illinois law, if a the note was signed in this state.

    By the way, it is too late for this transaction, but the next time you make a loan or investment, you should have an attorney look at any promissory note to make sure it can be enforced here.

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  • I am on disability and would like to try to start a business can I get a tax no so if it does not work it wont count against me

    I would like to try and see if I can work but I have a bad neck and am not sure I can work for any length of time.Is there a way to work and not have to tell disability I am working until I know if I can make a living and can do it?Can I get a tax...

    Thomas’s Answer

    If you are on Social Security disability, the Social Security Administration does allow you to earn some money or try to be self-employed without stopping your benefits. Take a look at the Social Security Redbook at

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  • Fraud vs. Major Fraud

    thanks for your replys, let me clear up my question. My situation is that I'm being charged with fraud from some dealings i had with my business. because the ultimate end user is the us government, I'm being told that they are looking at the cha...

    Thomas’s Answer

    I hate to pile on, but it sounds like the government could potentially go after you in civil court as well under the Federal False Claims Act. Your exposure there is three times the loss to the government, plus from $5,000 to $10,000 or more per "false" invoice in civil penalties. The government has the option to bring both a criminal and civil case. Just because you plead in your criminal case does not stop the government from pursuing payment in civil court. You need an attorney to deal with both these problems. So, if the message is insufficient from those above, GET AN ATTORNEY!

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  • Student loan has gotten a wage garnishment against us and now they are sending us to arbitration court for more. What can we do?

    My husband and I owe a lot in student loan debt. I work part time and he works full-time and the student loan company got a wage garnishment against him totaling 60 grand. Now we got served again by the same company and are being taken to arbitrat...

    Thomas’s Answer

    I just wanted to assure you that one cannot be arrested for breach of contract on a student loan. If you have been threatened with arrest for non-payment by the loan company, this is a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

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